Tuesday, 28 May 2013


A quote:

"When I observe some of our behavior, it really looks to me as if human beings want to suffer. Judging from the way we act, we do not seem to be truly interested in being happy... We seem to want to keep the painful experience of anger alive and close, and keep kindness and happiness at bay. We act as if we treasure suffering, so whenever we find it, we don't want to let it go.

... We are operating on the mistaken assumption of who we are is really this angry, disturbed person. But we do not have to be that person... At any moment, we have the option of being different; we can be a person who is not angry or disturbed. Let yourself be that other person - a person who treasures true happiness, kindness and tranquility."
- His Holiness 17th Karmapa, from The Heart of Noble,

I've encountered this quote, and several others, over the past few days which tie-in with the recurring theme of stories. Because we love a story; stories about ourselves, stories about our humanity, our culture, the world, the universe and life itself.    I'm beginning to see that the single defining ability which drives human behaviour is story-telling.  That's a bold statement, I know.  But it underlies and drives what we do, who we think we are and how we define everything.  We tell stories about HOW THINGS ARE.  

And stories are beautiful. They entertain, they inspire, they educate and inform, they thrill and scare, they allow us to visit new worlds, and to get to know people and foreign landscapes. They can take us forward into the future and deliver us back in time, and provide a narrative of the present.

Trouble is we don't always see stories as stories.  We fail to see that everything that we tell, print, sing, paint, draw, film, compose and think is a story.  It's a depiction.  It's the map - not the territory.  If you believed that a novel, or a film is real you would be shocked and surprised when it ended to discover that it was just a fantasy.  And who hasn't had the experience of not wanting to finish a novel because you want to go on being immersed in the story and the characters; because the story that you're reading is more exciting and absorbing than the life you're living?

And more and more I'm seeing that what we do is defined by the stories we believe.  If you change the story, you change change the experience of reality.

But it's not as easy as that, is it?

Wouldn't it be great to change the record?  When we're feeling pissed-off and dissatisfied, to metaphorically take off one record and put on another, stop watching one programme and watch another, put down one novel and pick up another much more inspiring, absorbing and exciting one.  

But we can't.  Can we?  We're stuck with this.  THIS story.  This narrative.  This version of events.

Or, are we?

Maybe you've heard about - and tried - positive thinking, meditation, CBT, NLP, counselling, self-help, self-development, hypnotherapy.  They're large and burgeoning movements.  And, at their heart they all have one goal - to make people happy.  Or happier.  When people have exhausted the other options that are supposed to deliver happiness - money, success, relationship, family - getting, growing, doing - when those don't produce the promised happiness, then people start looking at other options.  They try to find a better, alternative story.  They try to make themselves better, or to still their mind, to re-programme their behaviour, change their thoughts, investigate their past.  And these have a varying degrees of success.  But if one of them was the holy grail - if one of them really 'did it' then we'd all be doing it, wouldn't we?  It would very quickly be apparent that if one of these methods definitively worked and could make you happy, then it would spread like wild-fire.  So, like success and stuff and careers and money and the latest relationship - they work for a while for some people some of the time.  But they're not a guarantee.

Why not?  Are we really wedded to our anger and unhappiness?  Do we really not want kindness and happiness, as suggested by His Holiness 17th Karmapa?  It does seem like it's the dominant state - unhappiness.  If it weren't, we wouldn't spend so much of our lives looking for it!  But is it as easy as saying that we want suffering?  If we wanted it why would we seek to end it?  

There's something very cynical and dismissive about the first part of  M'sieur His Holiness's statement.  For if we treasured suffering and didn't want to let it go, then we wouldn't seek to do so.  We'd just enjoy it, wallow in it and not try to find ways to be happy.

The second part of his statement suggests that all we have to do is let ourselves be happy,  kind and tranquil and let go of the suffering and unhappiness.  Well, good luck with that.  That's tantamount to waving the magic wand of wishful thinking.  Don't work, does it?  Would that it were that easy.

But, perhaps it is.

What if you didn't need to change anything - your thoughts, your reality, your success, your appearance, your financial situation - none of it.  It would all just keep going exactly as it is and exactly as it does.

What if, all you had to do was see that everything that is said, thought, believed, projected, written, painted, drawn, filmed, commented on, blogged, is a story.  

What if, you were believing a story that says you need to be happy.  That one day you WILL be happy.  

Now, I know that at first sight this sounds like what His Holiness is saying.  But this isn't just saying that you have to change what you think.  What I'm saying is that you need to see through all stories.  ALL stories - including the one that says - "I should be happy."

Because we do, don't we, we think we should be happy, and loved and useful, and happy, and have purpose and make a difference and be happy....

You get the picture.

Why?  Why do we think that?  We think it because we're told that is what is going to happen.  One day, we will be, and do, all these things.  Providing we play our part and work hard and be good and do as we're told and show respect and love well and be helpful..... then we will be happy.

And we do these things.

And... we're not happy.  And maybe we question why we're not happy.  And we're told 'ah, don't worry, just try a little harder, be a little better, do a little more.'

So, we do.

And still, we're not happy.

We've got the stuff, we've married the person, we've had the gorgeous children, we've given our all, we've done our duty, respected our elders... blah, blah.  And yet.... we're still not happy.

And then we don't where to go or what to do.  We've done what we were told to do.  We've followed the formula.  We've carried out the instructions.  So...it must be us.  We must be doing it wrong, because the alternative is too radical to consider - that maybe the story is not correct. It's got a fundamental flaw it.  It's a flaw that ignores reality.  It presents a picture that isn't representative.

Look, take the ubiquitous story of santa.  We tell little children, children that we say we love and cherish above all else, that the presents that we buy them for Christmas aren't bought because WE want them to be happy (as if that stuff COULD make them happy, but we've been playing our part to the tee and for quite a long time, so we've bought into the story too).  We tell them that some man is going to deliver presents to them and ALL the children all over the world... providing....  providing they are good.  So we abdicate the opportunity to let our children know that we give them presents because we think they'll give them pleasure, in order that we can control their behaviour with a threat of non-delivery of presents by some fat, old geezer.

It doesn't occur to us that if we told them that there is no such thing as santa clause, that if you get a present it's because people buy it for you because they care about you and want to give you pleasure.  It doesn't occur to us that if we were just honest then it might be a much more effective way of relating to our children.  And if we did this, then they might not be so inclined to display what we deem to be bad behaviour and so eliminate the need FOR a story about some creepy old bloke who squeezes down chinmeys.

See, the thing is, we set our kids up to be disappointed.  Because, at some point, we have to spill the beans.  And then,  there is a major mind-fuck disappointment coming up.  Except, we've told them that we are not liars, and yet we have to tell them now that we have been lying and THIS teaches them is that the way to get what you want, the way to control people's behaviour, is to lie.  

What kind of fucked-up message is it that we're giving them?  You'll only get stuff if you're good.  I don't love you enough to give you gifts.  I'm gonna let you believe in a lie.

Oi, oi, oi.

<deep breath>

It would be so less screwed-upif we didn't reward childrens' behaviour either with lies or stuff.  If we loved them for what and who they are.  Stopped buying them off.  Stopped trading their uniqueness for some kind of homogenous ideal of conformity that means that they behave against their nature in order to get things that they never knew they wanted in the first place.

We can't help it though.  We were collectively fed the same stories, and until we can see them as lies and believe that there can be an alternative, then we'll continue. We'll do the things we're taught, because we're taught that it's the best way, the right way - it's not done with malice aforethought.  It's done in a communal belief that it's 'The Way Things Are Done'.  And it IS the way things are done.  But is it the most effective way?  Is it a way that lets people be themselves and value what is valuable?  That their abilities and talents and energy and liveliness is what is really precious - that they don't have to get anything and attain anything in order to be themselves.  That they have something to give and contribute and enjoy without having to constantly chase after some state called happiness.  That happiness is just seeing that the stories that we tell are just that - stories.  

And when you see that it's all stories, what's left is reality.  Life.  This livingness.  This liveliness.  And the stories can continue, but if you don't take them to be the territory, but see them as a depiction, then you can explore that territory and enjoy it - the uphills and the potholes, the storms and dry-beds, the springs and the raging gorge. 

And it really is that simple.  Stop believing the lie that life is a story.  Life is this.  It's what is happening right now.  What you are, right now.  And when you see the story for what it is, that's where the pivot is.  The fulcrum.  Because then... then you're in free-fall - a free-fall of possibilities without constraints - because you're not bound by fiction anymore, but have the entire availability of potential.  Anything.  You can do anything.  You don't have to be in thrall to any story.  Because reality is not limited by fiction or belief but is woven from the ever-changing reality of dynamic living.  

And the narrative now comes from shifting, pulsing, morphing living reality and it's what you are.  It is fluid and responsive and inquisitive.  It reacts and queries because it recognises that there is nothing definite, no truth that stands immovable, no promise that cannot be broken.  This is shifting sands. And that is very good news because it means that you, nor anything, have to cling to certainty.  You never need be sure of anything.  You don't have to defend your position.  Because there is no certainty, no surety and no position.

All there is is the shifting sands of reality and there is no longer any absolute story to uphold and defend.  No beliefs to protect because the only basis they have is in fiction.

So where does that leave you?  What happens when you realise that the story is a fiction?   Well it means that you can stop being defined and restricted by an unhappy story.  You can immerse yourself in the endless possibilities.  The story doesn't have to be unhappy and morbid and depressing.  You see, if the story is just that - a fiction - then that leaves you in a position of being able to write a new one.  And this isn't just about saying - I'm going to pick up a different book with a different story, it's about seeing that however we define what is happening - whatever we say, however we describe it, is a story and so we have the option to write a different one.  We can see things as they are and narrate it differently.  this isn't about ignoring reality - it's not about re-framing it - it's about reacting to it and working with it. Seeing the bare-faced facts and using them to create a different story.  Taking the raw materials and using them to create something more inspiring, more sustainable, more robust, positive and resilient.  

You can't change reality, but you can re-write the narrative - tell a tale that is much more uplifting, creative and inspiring.

"Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life".  Mary Oliver.

What, indeed?

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Why do people hang on to their stories?  Stories of the past. Stories that make them miserable and unhappy and limited. Because to question those stories is to ask and face the reality of: “Who am I, what am I, without the story?"

Despite the pain and suffering that these stories create, most people cling to them.  They re-tell and re-tell ,over and over - to themselves and to anyone who'll listen.  Why? They don't go around repeating everything. It's not as if they have to keep on reminding themselves of their gender.  I don't have to keep reminding myself I'm female - I just am.  It's clearly evident.  

So why do people keep repeating their stories?

The lady doth protest too much, methinks... 

You see, that's why - they keep repeating the stories because they're not true.

But why would anyone hang on to a story that isn't true?

It's not just a story.  It's a belief.  And a belief is TRUE. That's what we're taught to believe - that a belief is true!  But that's not even necessarily true.  A belief, by dint of the fact that it is something accepted without evidence, means that it isn't necessarily true.  It might be.  Yes, it might be true. 

How do you find out if something is true?  You test it.  You have a look, run some experiments, look at the evidence.

If someone has 2 things in one hand and 2 things in another and they put them on a table and tell you that there are 5 things, you have a look, count them up and it's quite apparent that there are not 5 things.  There are 4 things.  So you look askance at them, tell them they're wrong, and may not be so inclined to believe everything they say in future.  

Unless.... Unless you want them to like you.  Unless you depend on them for your well-being and happiness and sense of security.   Then you might see that there's 4 things and express some doubt.  But if they keep insisting that there's 5, over time, because your very existence depends upon agreeing with them, you'll start to agree with them too.Then you'll start to believe yourself that there are 5 things.  You have to.  Logic, reason and reality tells you that there's 4 things, but you can't admit the truth of that because you risk being rejected, reviled, mocked, ignored, disciplined, or any other manner of unpleasant consequences of not falling into line with people who hold the power of your well-being in their hands.  

So in order to reconcile the reality of 4 things with the possible consequence of rejection and demise if you don't agree to the lie of 5 things, you can't continue with the cognitive dissonance.  You have to believe it, i.e. take as true something that is not proven to be so.

And this trick is what happens when we believe stories about who or what we are.  As youngsters we are told who and what we are.  And we believe the stories.  And then they're not stories any more, they are TRUE BELIEFS.  Everyone else tells us that they're true, even though we might doubt them at first, and then because everyone else tells us they're true and we need to agree with them, we believe they're true.  And then the story is locked in.  But because they're not really true, we have to keep repeating them, over and over - asserting their legitimacy - always having to try and convince ourselves and others that they're right.  Because to admit that they're not right means admitting that what we were told by the people responsible for safeguarding and protecting us was wrong.  Either they lied or they just were not able to tell what was true themselves.   And where does this leave us?  

Well, as a youngster this leaves us in a potentially difficult position (although we all know young people who do speak up and point out untruths - either because the level of care they get is so minimal as to be not worth losing, or because they may be fortunate enough to be raised and surrounded by people who don't lie and insist that they believe the lies as well - but I think they're pretty few and far between.)  

But as an adult - where does this leave us? It leaves us in a position of being able to discriminate, of being able to think independently, and of being able to test and find out what is real, what is true.  

And some do.  And some don't.  Very many don't.  And that's why so very many people are lonely, unhappy, miserable and feel trapped.  Because they believe a lie.  And it's a lie (or lies) that they've been asserting, and had corroborated by others, for so long that it never even occurs to them that it may not be true.  It never occurs to them that they feel lonely, miserable and trapped because they're believing a lie about who and what they are.  They think that they feel this way because the lie IS true.

Do you see the distinction?

Let's take one belief - the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post: It's a common one - you hear people say it a lot, in different forms - and the core belief is "I'm useless".

Someone who believes this thinks that being useless is the reason why they're lonely, miserable and trapped.  That their uselessness is the cause of the feelings, the unhappy situation they're in.  They never entertain the possibility that the unhappiness is due to believing something that is false.  

And why would they?  They're right.  Because added to the erroneous belief they have about being useless is the further erroneous belief that 'I am right'.  You can't go around admitting you're wrong - because then, where would that leave you?  It would leave you in a place of not-knowing, of uncertainty, of groundlessness and if there's one thing that people dislike intensely it's not knowing.  Among other things, it's what makes us human - we need to make sense of the world, of ourselves, of life, the universe and everything.  To not know puts us in a fearful place where anything could happen and if we don't know what it is, we might not know how to deal with it.  So we have find out what everything is, how it works, why it works.  And the easiest way to do that (indeed the way we're instructed to do it) is to accept what we're told; especially if those that tell us insist that they're right.  Then, in order to go along with what they've told us, we also must believe that we're right.  And then that means that we've got it all worked out. 

Even if it's wrong.  

But lies can be unearthed and revealed to be untrue.  There are people that refuse to collude and agree that black is white, that the earth is flat and that they're useless.  The reasons why they refuse is a whole other sociological conversation.  But thank goodness that they do.  

And thank goodness that, in fact, anyone can.  Anyone can start to question the beliefs that they've always been asserting are true and right, but which cause them so much unhappiness.

So, let's start with one - let's keep running with the belief "I Am Useless".  There it is in black and white, capital letters and quote marks.  It's true.  It's true because it's told and heard so often by youngsters.  Not always in those words.  But the fundamental label is Useless.  And it gets repeated by parents, by friends, by family, by teachers, by governments, by advertising - in fact, by many, many people.  It comes in the form of "Let me do that for you (because you can't do it properly)", "Buy this product, it'll make you better", "We need to tell you what to do, because otherwise you won't know how to live", "Worship this God or you'll go to hell because you're bad." "Do as I tell you, because I'm older/wiser/better than you."  And on and on and on.  

We may, for a while, and at times, question whether or not they're right, and if we're very lucky we may see through some of the lies and see the whole house of cards for what it is.  But, more usually, our doubts get covered over by the constant assertion, in one form or another, that we're useless.  And, let's be logical, they can't ALL be wrong, can they?  I mean, they're right aren't they?  About so many things - fire burns, water's wet, ice is cold.  You see, they know.  They know what's what.  So they must be right when they say I'm useless.  And because I want to be right too, I have to agree and believe that I am useless.  Because being Right is just and noble and worthy.  I may be useless but at least I'm Right about being useless!

What if, however, you allow yourself the possibility that you're not right - and this is where the difficult bit comes in, because admitting you're not right is tied up with perceptions of being good and noble and just, but more importantly, because that means that they may not be right either - and if they're not right about this, then what else might they not be right about?   

So, if that feels uncomfortable why not look at it much more rationally? Forget about being right.  Rather, find out if it's correct.  I think that's a much more effective question to ask. 

Is it correct that I'm useless?  Treat it as a theory rather than a truth; because then you can start to find out the reality, by looking at the evidence.  

In order to do that you have to look for instances that disprove the theory.  Find out where you're not useless.  Look at the facts.  You're alive.  You have abilities.  Find one thing that you know you're good at.  Then find something else.  Keep going.    You may not be world-class at these things, you may not be lauded and applauded for them - but you're not useless.

So what? you might say.

Well, here's what.  Yes, it may be that you're not the best in the world at all these things, or anything, but you'll never get to be the best, or even the best you can be, if you carry on with the belief/lie/story - I Am Useless.  Because it's a very handy lie to have.  It's the one that keeps people particularly unhappy, miserable, depressed and trapped.  

And it does it like this:

If I go on believing "I’m useless", then it gives a watertight excuse, it absolves of responsibility.  It stops me asserting myself, it allows me to avoid confrontation, to indulge in habits which are destructive, either financially or health-wise.  Because if I’m useless and I’m right to believe that I’m useless, it then paints the story of my entire behaviour - an entire life.  

I can even pretend to be useful, whilst underlying that pretense is the default belief ‘I am useless’.  So then I can make forays into being useful, but never have to follow through.  I don’t have to succeed, I don’t have to be brave and honest and fearless and bold and authentic.  Because I’m useless.  I can look like I'm doing those things, but I don't really have to.  It allows me to be a hypocrite.

Being useless is the ultimate ‘victim’ garb.  It extends to all areas of life.  It works for everything.  Relationships,  career, hobbies, interests, community, being happy.  Because you can say ‘well, it’s not my fault.  I’m useless.’  It means that you never have to succeed.  You never have to take it all the way.  You can start things all the time, but you don't have to carry on. You can get passionate and enthusiastic about interests/projects/initiatives etc., but after a while they can fizzle out.  Because if you believe "I’m useless", then that belief permeates whatever you do. If you believe you’re useless you’ve a get-out clause.  For everything. 

But it turns out to be your get-out clause from living happily.

Because, the trouble with “I’m useless” as a default assumption/belief is that it operates in areas where you are talented/able and then you can’t see the wood for the trees. You can’t truthfully evaluate the areas where you are effective, talented and useful.  So it disables you in all sorts of areas and you end up giving up on everything because you transmute the belief “I am useless” onto everything that you do/say/think/feel.

It disables in other ways too.  It gives an excuse to abdicate responsibility.  It gives a seemingly plausible excuse to not stand up for what's important, it means that you don’t have to put yourself on the line, not fully. It gives an excuse to not commit.  To sort of dabble around the edges. It produces laziness:  “Oh, I’m useless, so what’s the point of doing anything.”  You can even be successful at them for a while, but ultimately you can opt-out.  

How then, to see through the story, the lie, the belief?  To re-write the story so that it says “I’m not useless, I’m doing the best I can.”  Or  “I’m not useless, I just don’t enjoy doing this.” Or “I’m not useless, I just don’t think it’s a worthwhile endeavour.”  Or “I’m not useless, it’s just that someone else is better at this and it's more useful to let them do it."

But not just re-write the story - you have to see that it IS just a story - and that it's not even a true story.

And then, when you see that you aren't right, that you're not useless, you discover instead that you’re able.  That you can do the things you want.  You may not enjoy the consequences, but you CAN do whatever you want - or at least try them out.  

Without the belief ‘I am useless’ you have removed all the excuses for not being able to live how you want. To do things.  And yes, you might be useless at doing some of those things.  But YOU are not useless.  And if you find out that you're no good at one thing, because you're not useless, per se, you can carry on and try something else and find out that you're actually very good at it.  

And because you're not useless you don't have to limit yourself to one thing, you can keep going - being useless at some things, mediocre at others, and stunningly good at others.  Imagine what you could do if you stopped believing you were right, stopped believing that you are useless.  

So start by asking: "Am I correct in thinking that I'm right?  That's your first question.   And then find out whether the things you always thought you were right about are correct or not.  

Then you've destroyed two lies: I am right and I am useless. 

From then on in, you can start to question everything.  Then every time that lie pops up, either in the form of self-talk or out of the mouths of others, you can shake your head and say - "No, that's not correct.  You aren't right.  I wasn't right. I'm not useless."

See where that takes you.... do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

Saturday, 18 May 2013


I’ve been doing some reading lately; reading of a particular kind.  The books focus mainly on the story of humanity and they propose, in the main, alternative stories which may or may not be true.   They’re certainly interesting and sound more plausible than the ones we currently have about ‘How Things Are’.  But plausibility is no guarantee of authenticity. 

One of these books rendered my mood distinctly pessimistic, with an overwhelming sense of impotence and ‘what-the-fuck’-ness; which is a very rational emotional and cognitive response to the stories that we collectively believe to be ‘true’ about ‘How Things Are’.  This book, particularly, was:

(a) aiming to discredit and debunk, and
(b) present alternative stories which the author asserts are the ‘real’ stories about ‘How Things Are’.

I have no idea whether the stories the author proposes to be true, actually are (although he did print one piece of information that stunned me speechless with horror, but which I subsequently found out was incorrect).  So, whilst you can do your own research into some issues, you are never going to get the whole story, and even if you did how would you know whether or not  what you’re being told is ACTUALLY how it is? 

Then I realised that it doesn’t actually matter whether or not the stories are true.  It doesn’t matter how things GOT to be the way they are.  It doesn’t matter whether humanity was created by god, is a result of the big bang, evolved from apes, was deposited on earth as an extra-terrestrial experiment.  It really doesn’t matter WHAT the story says about how things got to be the way they are.  What matters is what IS happening right now. 

And what IS happening is that human-kind as a species is growing exponentially year on year and, as a species, is increasingly consuming.  Not consuming enough just to exist or stay stable as a species, but consuming vastly and uncontrollably.  And in so doing, using resources at a rate which will ensure that, at some point, those resources will be used up.  

The fuels, minerals and metals will all be mined.  

The trees will have all been cut down.  

The land will be depleted and sterile.  

The rivers and seas will be polluted and poisoned.  

The other myriad species that live on earth will be extinct, except for those that we keep alive in controlled habitats.

We will be fucked.  That’s not just a story; and it doesn’t matter whether anyone believes it to be THE TRUE story.  It is actually happening.  It IS reality. 

And I’m not saying that consuming, per se, is wrong.  We have to consume in order to live.  It’s just what we consume and the way in which we do it.

And I’m not actually even saying that the way that we currently do it is wrong.  It’s just not very clever.  Unless of course the outcome you’re trying to achieve is a barren planet incapable of sustaining life. (Although I think it’s pretty likely that life will thrive again even on what we would see as a barren planet, since we’re all made of the same stuff – or non-stuff – according to how you see it.)

But if you don't think that would be a desirable outcome then to continue consuming in the way that we do is not a very smart methodology of ensuring that we as a species, and all the other species that we need to keep us going, will continue to thrive in a sustainable – and dare I say it - happy  way.

Here's the thing though - it’s not ‘them’ doing it.  It’s not ‘you’ doing it.  It’s me.  I am the one consuming.  I am the one who wears clothes, and eats food, and uses soap and shampoo.  Who sleeps in a bed and sits on a sofa.  Who watches TV and uses a laptop and a kindle.  Who speaks on a mobile phone and uses transport.  

It’s me.

If everyone were to stop saying ‘they’ or ‘you’.  And instead faced up to the fact that it’s ‘me’, then things might change to a more desirable outcome.  Or they might not.  But until each of us realise that ‘it’s me’ then we’ll go on abdicating responsibility and feeling impotent and useless and powerless.  We’ll continue shrugging our shoulders and blaming governments and corporations, and secret societies, and bureaucracies and red tape, and presidents and politics and big business.   Because it’s not them.  It’s you.  It’s me.  We are they.  I am them.  Without me, they can’t be. 

It is a truism that change starts with yourself.  And the reason it’s a truism is well... because it’s true.  The only change and the only difference you can make is by the actions that you take.  Whatever they may be.  Even if you decide that you actually don’t care that human-kind as a species eradicates itself and the world it lives in, with and on.  At least you’ll be consciously owning up to the responsibility of the part that you play.  

However, if you do decide that it matters, then it’s not going to change because ‘they’ do something about it.  They might all be the ones that decide that it doesn’t matter.  It will only change when you realise ‘it’s me’; until there’s enough ‘me’s’ to make a ‘they’.  A ‘they’ that will have an impact on why things get done and how they get done.

And the changes don’t have to be big.  You don’t have to save the world.  I don’t have to save the world.  You just have to do SOMETHING.  The something that only YOU can do.  Whatever it is. 

And the way to start is by thinking about what it is you actually want, what actually matters to you.  Then, when you’ve worked out what it is, have a look and see what part your actions play in going against the reality of what you want.  Whether it’s eating food from a supermarket, buying too much stuff, not using your talents to help yourself and others, travelling too much, eating too much, bitching too much, designing crap buildings, selling shoddy, pointless merchandise, dumping your rubbish, ..... you fill in the blanks – they’re infinite and specific to you - which is the good news and the bad news.  Because they’re specific to you, only you can do something about them.  Which means of course, that once you’ve stopped thinking about what you want and how what you do prevents what you want from happening, you do actually have to do something.

You do actually have to do something. 

I actually have to do something. 

And then we’ll have a ‘they’ that are actually doing something.  And it won’t be anyone else’s fault.  And it won’t be anyone else’s mistake.  And it won’t be anyone else providing the solution and making the change.  It will be me and it will be you.  Each one of us.

So if I were in the business of giving advice (and, generally, I’m not, because as someone once said about advice: “A wise man doesn’t need it, and a fool won’t take it”), then this is the only bit I feel is of any use:

Focus in, then give out.

Think about what matters to you.  Think about what you want reality to be.  Then take action.  Do it.  Make the changes that you can.  Use your talent.  Everyone has something that they’re good at.  Everyone.

Whether it’s cooking, gardening, mathematics, hugging, encouraging, seeing the wood for the trees, abstaining, listening, talking, writing, coaching, being a terrible warning, typing, speaking out, recycling, designing, building, campaigning, performing... again you fill in the blank – again they’re infinite and specific to you.

Find that thing, or things, that you do well, keep doing it or them, and see what happens.  And you don’t have to be great at them. And they don’t have to be big things.  You don’t have to be the best painter, or the greatest architect or designer, or the kindest or most loving person, or the best writer.  You just need to be good enough to do it, and to keep doing it, until you become the best you can at it.

So, do it for yourself and then do it for those that can’t.  I have a very firm conviction that if you do whatever it is you’re good for and do it for those that can’t, then it transforms.  Not all the time, and in all ways.  But enough to be life-changing and to give meaning and purpose.  To forge connections and, yes, to make a difference.  And I’m not talking about forming a movement, or a group or a new world view, or society.  Change doesn’t really happen like that.  It happens in small, incremental ways by people doing what they do best, as often as they can.

It just depends what it is we want to be different, and in what way.....

And THAT is up to me..... isn't it?

Monday, 6 May 2013


Read this book, if you please: http://www.ishmael.com/origins/story_of_b/

In my, not so humble but perfectly credible, opinion - it is brilliant.

And I'm aware that my last two posts have been to recommend the writings of others.  That's because they say what I can't and, even if I were able to, they do it so much more eloquently and clearly than I ever could.  So if I am unable to conceive and communicate the kind of vision they have, I can at least add my voice to it and pass it on.  Because every voice that gets added grows the message.

So, if you've a mind to, read it, understand what it's saying and pass it on to as many as you can.  

I think it's important - o.k?  And, yes, I fully realise that it's not important in an ultimate sense, because whether or not our species, in its present form, drives itself into extinction matters not a gnat's willy.  It matters not in a very real sense, in a species sense, in a world's sense, certainly not in a universal sense, and not even in a personal sense; not really.  Because there is nothing driving THIS.  It happens as it happens, it is what it is.  And that's not a new-age, airy-fairy pronouncement; it's a bare fact.  It is what it is, it does what it does and it happens how it happens.  

If you understand the messages of the writers that I've flagged, and feel inspired to add your voice then that too is just what's happening.  But, given the choice, and you are given a choice (even though you don't get to choose the choices you're given, natch), why not choose the vision and the message that frees you from the idea that you need to be saved, from the belief that what is happening is the only way it can happen.  

The only way change happens is by one person adding their voice and their intention and their action.  One at a time....

Do you care to add yours?  Of course, it's entirely up to you.